Not just buffalo meat, Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow is fast heading towards a non-vegetarian crisis as entire chicken, goat meat and egg markets have begun shutting down.
While more than 80% markets of non-vegetarian items already downed shutters on Friday, various traders’ associations have declared strike from Saturday.
Under the circumstances, vegetable prices, which were on the decline for last one week, are likely to register a steep hike.
“The indefinite strike begins tomorrow (Saturday), but most of the shops have shut down today (Friday). We have advised the sellers who have stocks in their shops, to sell till tonight and then shut shops from Saturday morning,” said Md Rizwan Siddiqui, Lucknow Murga Mandi Samiti member.
His shop in Azad Market in Indira Nagar had all its shutters down. All the nearby shops too are closed and the cages to keep the birds were all empty.
Cow slaughter is banned in Uttar Pradesh that has seen frantic activity since Yogi Adityanath took charge as chief minister with a vow to crack down on cattle smuggling. The BJP fought on a poll plank of shutting down illegal abattoirs, a move that was seen as hurting Muslim-run businesses. In the past week, several mutton and fish shops have been set on fire as the supply of buffalo meat – which is legal – has dried up.
Not many shopkeepers are ready to speak their mind or speak at all over the issue. A nearby meat seller, at 2.30 pm, was all set to sell off the last five kilos of the goat meat and then pack up. He was not ready to speak anything or tell his name.
What would be the strike like?
Roshan Qureshi said: “Expect no chicken, no mutton, no eggs. I have heard that even fish markets have been asked to close down.”
Meat, chicken, egg sellers are going on strike in solidarity to those whose businesses are getting hit due to the crackdown on buffalo meat sellers and such shops that are on streets.
The strike is going to hit the hotels’ and restaurants’ non-vegetarian menu as the supply chain has been broken.
“Today the truck that replenishes my stock did not turn up,” said Mohammed Shakeel, who runs his business from Qaiserbagh market in Lucknow and supplies chicken to some of the top hotels and restaurants in Lucknow.
Buffalo meat is not an isolated commodity. It is the cheapest meat available. End of its sale will impact demand-supply ratio of chicken, meat, eggs, and vegetables and will lead to steep prices escalation of them. Which means, the non-veg food will become out of reach for many regular non-veg consumers,” said a seller of meat.
In Allahabad, beef and mutton shops in the city remained closed after the state government’s recent decision to close all illegal slaughterhouses in the state. The biggest beef market in old city area of Atala, which used to be abuzz with customers from all over the district, wore a deserted look.
A meat trader Afzal said that state government’s decision has posed a question of survival for him and his family. Whatever little earning we used to do by selling meat is now over, Afzal lamented.
A local leader Dilshad Mansuri said that Nagar Nigam should have done alternative arrangements before locking down the slaughterhouse.
In Varanasi, a meat seller, who doesn’t wish to be named, said, “There is no impact on chicken and egg sale. Some of the street vendors, who sell fried chickens and other dishes on street near a mall in Bhelupur area, have stopped selling the chicken dishes following the drive against the slaughterhouses. They will start selling fried chicken after wait and watch for few days, if things are normal and there is no such drive.”
Lucknow meat-chicken-egg sellers say, the Lucknow strike will spread to the other parts of the state sooner than later.
(With inputs from Sudhir Kumar in Varanasi, Farhan Ahmed Siddiqui in Allahabad)